21 Days/ 21 Poems: Sick by Shel Silverstein

Celebrations for National (US) Poetry Month continue, here at Kinna Reads :).  The theme for today’s 21 Days/21 Poems is disease or sickness.


“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more–that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut–my eyes are blue–
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke–
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

Source: Poets.org

I had planned on posting a poem on the subject by W.H. Auden; either Letter to a Wound or Surgical Ward.  But I came across this one by Silverstein and liked it immediately.  Besides, it lightens the mood here.  And, of course, it reminds of my four-year-old. Although, he tends to ask me what day it is before proceeding to make excuses for not wanting to go to school or to detail a schedule for his day at odds with my plans. This poor child! The litany of complaints, all well-thought out.  Some of the maladies are priceless.  All this work, this long recital, then to find out that it’s Saturday! Bliss :).

Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) was an American poet and song-writer.  He also wrote children’s books.



  1. I remember this one! When I was in third grade my teacher did a whole unit on Shel Silverstiein, and this was one of the poems we read. (I can’t believe I can remember that, when I can’t remember what I read last week….) I’ve really been enjoying your poems this April, Kinna. For whatever reason, somewhere along the line I got it into my head that poems really have to be worked at to be understood, more than I would be willing to put into them, but the poems you’ve showcased have really put that notion to rest. Thank you!


    • Obviously, the poem made a lasting impression on you when you read it in third grade. But what a lovely curriculum for third graders. And thanks for coming by to read the poems. Poetry just has a bad reputation not of its own making.


  2. I remember this one from my childhood. Like Parrish, it still applies to me some days now, as well. Shel Silverstien has some great poems. As a country music buff, I particularly like the ones turned to song – A Boy Named Sue sung by Johnny Cash and The Winner sung (in the recording I’ve heard) by Kris Kristofferson.


    • He seems to have been quite the poet and composer. I came upon this quite by chance. I’ve added him to my list of poets to explore. Thanks.


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